While some may see it as a surprise, many analysts and enthusiasts know that the ability to install and run Android apps natively on a Chromebook running Chrome OS is a realized dream. With a compatible Chromebook running at least Chrome OS version 53, users will gain access to the Google Play Store library. This means that common mobile activities such as looking through your favorite designers collection via their mobile app or searching for Laser Hair Removal salons can now be done on your Chromebook, without any need for your phone.
So what does this open up for developers and what can be expected?
Firstly, catering an app to a mobile user comes with assumptions, such as the user will be traveling or they are looking for something immediate. However, when a user sits down at their laptop or Chromebook, it’s often for different reasons and with very different intent.
- A mobile user is walking through the street in search for a specific type of restaurant. They take out their phone, complete a quick search or app query, and are directed to the restaurant.
- A Chromebook user, sitting at home or work will search for the same type of restaurant, however, with the intention to make a reservation for days in advance and to invite guests.
For a developer, the challenge is to develop one app which can cater for both use cases. For a mobile focused UI, options such as directions, a smaller text based menu, and the ability to see if their friends are nearby would be brought to the user’s attention
A Chromebook user, however, would need to be presented with options to view the menu in more detail, directed to make a reservation, and even given the opportunity to invite friends.
In the above example, a hand-off focused app could be a great solution and is a great benefit which users will likely see come to light as developers begin to adapt their apps.
A user sits down to their Chromebook and opens a restaurant finding app. They look through a menu filled with rich content and descriptions. Once they have chosen their restaurant, they make a reservation and, with a few simple screen presses, can invite their friends using their preferred messaging platform.
As the reservation date and time approaches, each user who has accepted the invitation is alerted on their mobile device via the restaurant booking app and is presented with directions and current traffic conditions. Additionally, users will also be given the option to ‘begin their journey,’ allowing other invitees to see how far away their friends are. This function could also be given to the restaurant host via their POS to see if guests are closeby before canceling a reservation.
Once each guest arrives and enjoys their meal, each device would prompt its user to either select the meal items they had or offer to split the bill evenly. Once confirmed, all guests make payment via the app and leave.
While the above example may not be the highlight of a developer conference, the simple ability to keep a user engaged in an app from Desktop to Mobile is a strong benefit. If you’re a current Chromebook owner, head to your settings or manufacturer website and see if your Chromebook is eligible for update, and keep your eyes out on how many of your favorite apps begin to change and adapt.